The existence and extent of skill deficiencies, shortages, and mismatches has been a topic of keen interest for decades.  Since 2000, several new data sets — especially the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey — have shed light on this important topic. 

Although many have used the following terms interchangeably, they reflect separate, but inter-related, topics.  Deficiencies, shortages and mismatches are different things, when you are talking about skill sets. 

Also, whatever topic analysts choose to examine, there has been considerable disagreement about whether a problem exists, and if so, how serious it is.

To help inform this ongoing discussion, ETA staff have created this repository page of research studies and other resources on skill deficiencies, shortages and mismatches.

So far, we have included about three dozen studies.  The most recent studies are shown first.

Since analysts typically cover several different sub-topics, a conventional bibliography is unworkable. Instead, in the table we indicate:

  • the type of problem(s) each author analyzes;
  • the supply and demand factors examined;
  • whether the study examines the present or past trends vs. projections or forecasts; and
  • whether the study examines the nation, states, and/or localities.

This level of detail will make it easier for you to determine which study best meets your interests. 

This repository is a work in progress, and only includes complete information for the newest studies.  Except for a few clearly-written conceptual pieces, we restricted this repository to studies that analyze at least some data.

In the table, we abbreviate survey names as follows:

ACS - American Community Survey (Census Bureau)

CES - Current Employment Statistics (BLS)

CPS - Current Population Survey (Census Bureau and BLS)

HWOL - Help-Wanted OnLine (Conference Board)

JOLTS - Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (BLS)

OES - Occupational Employment Statistics (BLS)

The Workforce Information Council Summary Report

The former Workforce Information Council (WIC) undertook a Skills Initiative under the Workforce Investment Act (WIA).  It formed a study group to engage stakeholders from public policy and higher education in a dialogue around skills concepts and data.

The LMI Institute hosted the WIC Skills Initiative Forum, and issued the Skills Initiative Summary Report on data to address skill needs.